George Knapp Collins.

Spafford, Onondaga County, New York online

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there he came to this village at an early date and carried
on a profitable business as cooper until his decease, which
occurred in 1861 ; he had no successor in business.

There never was but one resident tailor at the Corners,
William Quick, who was born in London, England. -He
first came to Canada, and from there to this village, where
he married a Miss French. He remained here a few years
and then moved to Borodino. Before his coming a tailor
residing in some other place came to the tavern on stated
days, cut the clothes of the people, and they were then made
up in the family or by a practiced seamstress who went
from houses to house for that purpose. The business of a
tailor and seamstress in those days was a respectable and
profitable one.

Another lucrative business in olden times was that of
currier and tanner and shoemaker. There are those still
living who can remember when a shoemaker, carrying his
kit of tools with him, went from house to house, shoeing
the family from skins taken from the domestic herds, and
prepared by a neighboring tanner and currier. Among the
itinerant shoemakers who came to the "Corners" was David
Havens, father of Clark and Ebenezer Havens. He came
from Rhode Island, was a Seventh Day Baptist, and was
buried in their cemetery at Scott, New York. Among the
early tanners and curriers were Sumner Allen, father of
William Bulfinch Allen, now a resident at the Corners, and
David T. Lyon ; each carrying on business west of the main
road, in the northern part of the village at Spafford Corners.
Mr. Lyon was also a shoemaker, and with his coming here
the itinerant business came to an end; he and his sons
Charles B. and Cyrus Lyon were expert craftsmen, and for
many years made the foot wear of the southern residents
of the town.

Another industry of considerable importance in early
times, now in disuse by reason of changed conditions, was
that of Potashery. At a very early date a building for the
manufacture of potash from wood ashes stood where the


present residence of Mrs. Benjamin McDaniels now stands,
on the south side of the east and west road, just west of the
" Corners." Here " Uncle " EH Fisher, under the manage^
ment of Levi Hurlbut and Asahel M. Roundy, year after
year gathered wood ashes from all the neighboring farmers,
and in the Fall of the year boiled the lye from them into
potash, for the eastern market ; and here many a good house-
wife came with her pot grease to have " Uncle " Eli assist
her in making her annual barrel of soft soap for domestic
use. Uncle Eli was a familiar character of those early
years, and his coming and going, as the years went round,
was watched by the villagers with pleasurable satisfaction.
His glowing open arch fire always gave out a generous heat
and light, and many a man will recall with pleasure the
memory of, when a boy, he spent the cold Fall evenings
in that light and heat with Uncle Eli, as the latter pursued
his evening toil.

Jeremiah Van Rensselae Coon and his father David Coon,
at an early date carried on the business of harness making,
the foiTTier at the Corners, and the latter at the cross roads
east of Spafford Cemetery; David Coon died in 1857, and
his son moved away soon afterwards ; they had no successors
in business.

The following business references to the Village of Boro-
dino are taken in part from Bruce's History of the County
of Onondaga. The first merchant there was Daniel G.
Burroughs, who kept a store in a log cabin on the site of
the present dwelling house and store of Alphonso Deerman,
east of the Skaneateles and Homer road, as well as the one
leading to Thorn Hill. It is said he was an expert swimmer,
and at one time swam from Borodino Landing to Mandana,
a distance of thee miles.

Borodino at one time had three stores for the sale of
general merchandise, thee taverns, three tailor shops, three
blacksm.ith shops, and other things in proportion ; but, like
Spafrord Comers, was materially affected by the building
of the Binghamton and Syracuse Railroad, and the conse-
quent diversion of travel to that road.

Mr. Burroughs was succeeded in business by Stephen and
Horace Childs, said to have been natives of Connecticut, but
before or after coming to Borodino resided in Owasco, N. Y.
Other merchants in Borodino were Daniel Baxter, Messer


Barker, Washington Wallace, William Leg-g, David Becker
(his son-in-law), Thomas B. Anderson, Charles M. Rich,
Churchell & Eddie, Grinnell & Howe, William Quick & Son,
Captain Zach Berry, Caleb E. King, and Alphonso Deerman.

The first tavern was built by Ira Rider in 1823, on the
present site of the Churchell House ; the second was erected
by Col. Lewis C. Davis, where John Uncless now resides;
and the third was kept in the house lately occupied by Mark
Harvey as a residence, on the northwest corner of the cross
road in this village. The two latter taverns were discon-
tinued many years ago, and the former is still in use and
occupied as a hotel by Mr. Churchell.

The first blacksmith shop was kept by Eleazer Hillebert,
on the site where the Legg Block recently stood. Other
blacksmiths in the village were William Legg, Mr. Stowell,
Isaac Wallace, Orrin F. Eddy, A. Griffin and John Weston.

The first wagon maker was William Legg; who had as
workmen John Babcock, Solomon Sprague, Seymour
W^arner, and Simeon Morchell.

Among the early shoemakers were Milton Streeter,
Renona A. Cady, and Harman Cady. Thomas Howard at
one time had a tannery here; Daniel Baxter a Potashery;
and William Hayford a tinshop and foundry.

In May, 1856, a fire destroyed the tinshop and foundry,
a tailor shop, and other things, entailing a loss of about
$8,000.00; and on September 12, 1871, the business places
of William W. Legg & Son, William Quick, Charles M. Rich,
H. Linus Darling, and Charles Benton were burned;
destroying nearly the whole business center of the village.
The site of the major portion of the burned district was
subsequently built upon by Col. William W. Legg, for a
business block adapted for the use of stores, shops and
offices ; this was also destroyed by fire in 1901, and has not
since been restored. Since the destruction of the Legg
Block three stores have catered to the wants of the Borodino
people, two on the site of the original Burroughs store, and
one in the building known as the Town Hall.

In early years the country merchants purchased their
goods direct from the wholesale dealer and importer in
New York City, and for that purpose made at least one
trip annually to that metropolis, and the particularly smart
ones made two, one in the Spring and one in the Fall of


the year. These sojourns from home generally lasted from
two to three weeks at a time. By reason of their much
travel and their extensive business experiences, the society
of these gentlemen was much sought after in the communi-
ties where they resided; and their patrons never wearied
of the relation of their travels and their business experi-
ences in the great City of New York. Their comments on
facts coming within their personal obsei^s^ation seemed to
have force and certainty, which comes from special knowl-
edge and privileged information, and were received by their
auditors accordingly. If they were good fellows, and their
business instincts generally led them to be, their stores
naturally became club-houses, where men and boys con-
gregated, not only to look over the latest importations from
New York, but to hear the latest news from the outside
world. Newspapers were not as common then as now, and
consequently the country merchant was a power politically
and socially in the community. Men naturally congregate
together during the relaxation of business, and in early
years, what better place was there for a country man or
boy to spend a long winter evening, than around the big
box stove in the rear part of a country store? Here the
elders smoked their pipes, told stories, and all listened to
the merchant as he related his adventures, and expounded
matters political and otherwise to his patrons congregated
about him. A popular merchant has always been a great
power in the community, and it is a pleasure to note that
in this town the store, as a club-house, has always taken
precedence in popularity over that of the tavern.


Joshua V. H. Clark, in his History of Onondaga, In
speaking of the original town of Spafford as organized in
1811, says: "The first settler in that part of the town taken
from Tully was Jonathan Berry. He first settled a short
distance south of the village of Borodino, in March, 1803.
In April, the same year, Archibald Farr located himself on
th« southwest corner of Lot. 11.

" To facilitate the progress of Mr. Farr's imigration^
Berry sent his teams and men to clear out a road, that Farr
might proceed to his place of destination. This was the
first road attempted to be made within the limits of the


town, and is the same that now leads from Spafford Corners
to Borodino." The next year " the road was cleared from
Farr's, on Lot 11, to the Comers; and the next year, 1805,
Elisha Sabins and John Babcock cleared and cut a road
from Scott (then loiowTi as Babcock's Comers) to Spafford

The same time they moved their goods on sleds over
this newly made road from Scott to their new abode in this
town at Spafford Corners. Mr. Goodwin, in his history of
Coi-tland County, say that the next year, 1806, Isaac Hall,
who had ecently settled at Spafford Comers, drove a wagon
over this road from his home to Babcock's Corners, loadea
it with hemlock boards, and then drove it back to his
residence in Spafford.

Goodwin, in this same history, says that Peleg Babcock,
accompanied by his brother Solomon Babcock, coming from
Leyden, Mass., settled on Lot 82, Tully, now Village of Scott,
in the year 1799 ; and was soon afterwards followed to that
place by John Babcock, Jared Babcock and others. How
these latter gentlemen were rlated to Peleg, if at all, is not
known. Soon after taking up his residence in Scott, Peleg
Babcock puchased Lot 21, Tully, on which Spafford Corners
is situate, and immediately afterwards commenced the
sale of it in parcels to purchasers. Among his early con-
veyances is one to John Babcock, dated October 8, 1806,
one to James Cravath, dated September 7, 1805, and another
to Elisha Sabin, dated September 8, 1811 ; probably preceded
by contract of anterior date. Mr. Babcock never owned
the State's Hundred Acres on this lot, which was puchased
by Isaac Hall, August 1, 1805; perhaps by contract of an
earlier date ; it is claimed he was in occupation as early as

In view of these traditionary statements, it is interesting
to note the survey bill of this first highway in town, which
has been transcribed in the first book of records ot the town
of Spafford, from an earlier record in the town books of
Tully. This is the first road record in this book of records :

" Survey of a road, beginning at the north west comer
of Lot 12, in Sempronius; and running from thence S. 47°
E. 185 chains — thence S. 35° E. 60 chains — thence S. 14°
E. 183 chains — thence S. 7° E. 245 chains — thence S. 30
chains — thence S. 7° E. 40 chains — thence S. 15° E. 10


chains to the north line of lot No. 82, Tully. Nicholas
Howd, Surveyor. ?

Recorded this 3rd day of July, 1804.

Amos Skeel, Clerk.

James Cravath,
Solomon Babcock,
Commissioners of Highways."

This is a survey of the main highway, running north and
south through the original town of Spafford, (now known
as the Skaneateles and Homer road) , commencing at Jona-
than Berry's house, on the north line of the then town of
Spafford, and the south line of Marcellus, and extending to
the Village of Scott, in the County of Cortland. That would
indicate that, at least, the portion of this highway from Dr.
Archibald Farr's location, on the southwest corner of Lot
11, to the Village of Scott, was surveyed before the tradi-
tionary opening of the road. The lands purchased by James
Cravath of Peleg Babcock, on Lot 21, Tully, were the same
now owned and occupied by Joseph Cole in 1900 ; and this
survey bill also indicates that he must have occupied his
purchase early in 1804 or he must have formerly resided in
Scott, before settling in Spafford.

The town books show the record of another survey bill,
of a cross road leading from the Skaneateles and Homer
road, easterly on Lot 11 to Lot 12, in the direction of Farr's
Mill at the foot of the Bucktail; this road ran along the
northern line of the Breed Farm of to-day, and was aban-
doned years ago and taken up. This bill is also dated in
1804, showing the early date of Dr. Farr's efforts to locate
a grist mill, and perhaps a foundry in Spafford Hollow.

Other survey bills of roads are recorded, commencing
January 7th, 1807, and rapidly thereafter until the original
town was well supplied with these means of intercommuni-
cation, before it was organized as a separate corporate body
in 1811 ; in fact in early days there were more roads than
there are to-day; many of those first laid out have either
been regularly condemned and taken up, or abandoned to
the use of the adjacent owners of the land. Among those
abandoned or gone into disuse, was one extending along the
county line between Onondaga and Cortland, commencing
in the Skaneateles and Homer road, and extending easterly
to the main road, running northerly and southerly in Cold


Brook ; another cross road, extending from the Skaneateles
and Homer road to the Cold Brook road, ran along the
southern line of the Barker farm of 1900, and was aban-
doned years ago, and fenced in by the owners of the land.
The cross road along the north line of the Breed farm, above
spoken of, was also abandoned over fifty years ago. There
are others Avhich have suffered a similar fate, but a recital
of them would be wearisome and unprofitable.

There are other roads which have been laid out or re-
surveyed, since the organization of the town in 1811, and
particularly since the addition of the Marcellus acquisition.
The early records of the original town of Marcellus were
burned before 1830, so a re-survey of that portion of the
town was ordered by vote, early in the thirties. The last
survey bill appearing of record in the town books, is one
of the road leading from Edwin Morris' house, (1900) on
Lot 31, to the head of Skaneateles Lake, by way of Spafford
Landing and the cottage of the writer on that beautiful
sheet of water.

In this connection it seems appropriate to remark, that
the main road running northerly and southerly through
this town, from the village of Homer on the south to the
village of Skaneateles on the north, is one of the most
attractive and picturesque in Central New York, so cele-
brated for beautiful drives, and in early times, before the
cross-country railroads had diverted the natural course of
travel, was much used by travelers, passing from the north-
ern to the southern portions of the State. A regular line of
stages passed daily both ways over this route, to accom-
modate the demands of travel, and taverns at stated places
along the road did a prosperous business. In the Fall of
the year, large droves of cattle and sheep were frequently
seen going along this highway, and the farmers along the
route found a ready sale for their surplus fodder to the
drovers accompanying these domestic herds, destined for
the New York Market. The Stage Driver and Tavern
Keeper were important personages in those early times, and
held a position in the community entirely diflPerent from
their successors of the pesent day.

The highway from the village of Homer to Skaneateles,
a distance of twenty-five miles, is nearly in a direct course,
and so gentle in its rise and descent that a traveller can trot


a smart team, attached to a light conveyance, nearly the
whole distance between the two places. Leaving the Village
of Homer, the route to Scott, eight miles, is up a wide and
fertile valley, and from thence to the county line, two and
a half miles, is up a gentle ascent along a small water, couse.
As the traveller approaches the county line, there is sud-
denly opened to his view an expanse of fifteen or twenty
miles of landscape, covering part of the county of Cayuga,
nearly all of the to\vn of Spafford, parts of the towns of
Skaneateles and Marcellus, and the whole of Skaneateles
Lake, with its surrounding hills and v/ooded points mirrored
in its placid waters. The highway at this point, is over a
thousand feet above the waters of the Lake, less than a mile
away on the left, and thence, in its northerly and parallel
course to that body of water, gradually descends to the sur-
face level of the Lake at Skaneateles Village, fifteen miles
away, the traveller never losing sight of that beautiful sheet
of water, from the time it first came in view in the hills of
Scott. This old stage route may have lost some of its points
of interest, by the removal of the old time stage coaches,
and the discontinuance of travel by pivate equipages, once
so frequently seen on this favorite route of travel, yet there
is a satisfaction in knowing that the graceful Spafford Hills,
the fair waters of Skaneateles Lake, and God's pure air and
the sunlight of Heaven spread over all, are still there, and
cannot be diverted by the commercialism of man.

Another road in town, known as the " Bucktail," leading
from Spafford Comers to Otisco Hollow, will always attract
the attention of the traveller, by reason of its wild and
rugged character; without question it has no counterpart
in Central New York, and possibly not in the whole State
of New York. It was laid out about 1818 by Captain Asahel
Roundy, and surveyed in May, 1819, by Lauren Hotchkiss,
Surveyor. The naming of this road was mentioned under
the head of First Settlers, in connection with the name of
Captain Roundy.



The first resident physician, in the southern end of the
town of Spafford, was Dr. Archibald Farr, who, according


to tradition, settled on \he southwest corner of Lot 11, Tully,
in the Spring- of 1803. Very little is known of him, beyond
the fact that he was the first settler in the southern portion
of the town, that he opened his log- cabin for the entertain-
ment of guests, and that he built a grist-mill in 1806, and
perhaps a foundry, at the foot of the Buck Tail Gulf, in
Spafford Hollow. He must have moved away before 1811,
for according to deed records in the County Clerk's Office,
the Leggs were in possession, that year, of the land where
he is reputed to have resided.

Dr. Farr was followed by Dr. Ashbel Searls, who first
settled east of the main road, on Lot 42, Tully, on land
purchased of Elijah Knapp. He erected there a log house,
but did not remain long before he re-deeded the land to
Mr. Knapp, and moved to Spafford Corners, where he pur-
chased a house and lot on the southwest corner of the cross
roads, of Lauren Hotchkiss. From there he moved to Otisco
about 1815, and finally to Onondaga Valley, where he died
in 1875 at a great age. He became a member of the Onon-
daga County Medical Society in 1816, while a resident of

The next physician in the southern part of the town, of
whom we have any recrod, was Dr. Zachariah Derbyshire,
who resided on the west side of the highway, half way
between the residence of Lyman C. Bennett and that of Mrs.
Isaac Fisher, on Lot 22, Tully. His first wife, Pruella
Derbyshire, died August 12, 1823, and was buried in Spaf-
ford Cemetery; he then married Hannah Williamson,
daughter of Cornelius Williamson, for a second wife. We
have no record of his coming or going, but it is probable his
stay in town filled the interregrum, between the going of
Dr. Searls as above stated, and the coming of Dr. Collins,
who came about 1830. He at one time had a foundry, just
above the upper falls in the Buck Tail Gulf.

Dr. John Collins came to Spafford Corners from Brook-
field, Madison County, New York, where he was born, about
1830, and remained here in active practice of his profession
until his decease, August 15, 1853.

Among the early students who read medicine In his office
was Daniel G. Frisbie, who after being admitted to prac-
tice, entered into partnership with him. Dr. Frisbie was
admitted to the Onondaga County Medical Society in June,


1845. Dr. Frisbie, while associated in business with Dr.
Collins, married Mary Bulfinich, daughter of Joseph Bul-
finch, and a short time afterwards went West, where he
became a successful practitioner and business man.

A short time before the decease of Dr. Collins he sold his
last residence (the late T. Maxson Foster residence) and
business interests to a Dr .Davidson, who continued practice
here for a few years and then moved away.

Since the departure of Dr. Davidson, the southern portion
of the to\vn has been sevred by resident physicians, in the
persons of Dr. H. D. Hunt and Dr. G. Eugene Barker. Dr.
Hunt was admitted to the Onondaga County Medical Society
in June, 1875. He moved to Cortland County.

Dr. Barker, son of William Barker, was born in this town,
and after a successful practice in other places finally
returned here, where he has had a prosperous career in his
chosen profession, for a number of years last past. He is
a Homeopath, and was admitted to the Onondaga County
Medical Society of that persuasion in 1891, while he was a
resident of the village of Tully. He now has a residence
and office at Spafford Corners.

In the northern, or Marcellus end of the town, the first
resident physician was Jeremiah Bumbus Whiting, who is
reputed to have located at or near the present village of
Borodino in 1802, and continued practice there until 1819,
when he moved to Sempronius, N. Y. He afterwards went
to Michigan, where he died. Dr. Jonathan Kneeland, who
commenced the study of medicine in his office, said of him ;
he was a good classical and medical scholar, well skilled in
the use of indigenous remedies, but too much addicted to the
use of spirituous liquors to make a successful practitioner
in the field of medicine.

Dr. Whiting was succeeded at Borodino by Dr. Benjamin
Trumbull, who came in 1816. He was admitted to the
Onondaga County Medical Society in 1822, and was Presi-
dent of that body in 1832-3. He continued practice in this
village until his decease, which occurred May 28, 1835, at
the age of 46 years. He was invariably represented by
physicians, who knew him, as a gentleman, scholar and a
skillful physician. He was a nephew of " Brother Jona-
than " Trumbull of Connecticut, the intimate friend and
associate of Washington, and one of the most noted War


Governors of the Revolution. It is claimed that this village
is indebted to him for its name, Borodino, and that during
his residence here he did much to foster the churches, public
schools, and the Chistian morality of the community. He
died of heart disease.

Dr. Jonathan Kneeland, born near Borodino in 1812, early
had a predilection for medicine, and when a small boy,
entered the office of Dr. Whiting as a student; but this
engagement was soon terminated. He then entered a
medical school in Ohio, but his entry into the practice of
his chosen profession was interrupted by severe illness,
which delayed the fruition of his desires until he was over
thirty years of age. He first opened an office in Tully, but
soon afterwards settled at or near Thorn Hill, v/here he had
a successful career as physician and surgeon, among his old
towns people near Borodino, for several years. He then
moved to Onondaga Valley, v/here he remained until his
decease. He joined the Onondaga County Medical Society
in 1842, and in 1892 was honored by that body by a public
banquet, on account of his long and honorable career of
fifty years, as member of that society. He was President
of that body in 1852.

Dr. Trumbull was succeeded at Borodino by Dr. Isaac
Morrell, who continued a successful practice there until
1866, when he moved to Fulton, N. Y. After a short
absence he returned to Boodino, but soon after went to
Elmira, N. Y., where he. died. He was admitted to the
Onondaga Medical Society in January, 1841.

Since the departure of Dr. Morrell this end of the town

Online LibraryGeorge Knapp CollinsSpafford, Onondaga County, New York → online text (page 7 of 32)